A key aim of the Trust is for our schools to be high performing. We accept that each school will be at a different starting point in their journey of improvement, and we will work collaboratively to achieve our aim.
Our approach to improvement is for schools to support schools, and to achieve this we aim to attract further schools into our Trust in a carefully planned way. Our engagement with these schools will focus on:
- Communicating the benefits of being part of the Trust.
- Proactive engagement with the Trust Board.
In discussion with the DfE, the Regional Schools Commissioner and local authorities, we will work to agree which schools will benefit from joining the Trust. These schools could be those requiring additional support or those that are performing well (i.e. ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’) but may not have the capacity to develop their own trusts. The infrastructure of the Trust will take away the burden on schools of managing support services and allow them to focus on effective teaching and learning; they will also be able to deliver school-to-school support across our family of academies. For each different category of schools, we will offer the following incentives:
- Interaction with like-minded colleagues and mutual support
- A flexible scheme of delegation for their governing body to continue to lead and manage the school
- A chance to generate income and lead on school improvement by offering school-to-school support
- Continuing professional development for all staff
- An opportunity for the headteacher join the Executive Group and shape the working of the Trust
- Stability in a fast-changing educational landscape
- Access to shared services and economies of scale.
Schools can now join a trust as an ‘associate member’ for a period of around 2 years before they must make a final legally binding decision. Associate membership allows a school to join a trust in a more flexible arrangement, accessing shared resources and leadership, without legally transferring into the trust it is working with.
The benefits and areas for consideration of becoming a BET associate school are as follows:
- Allows for comprehensive due diligence and mutual understanding
- Reassures governing bodies, particularly of high performing schools
- Provides educational opportunities of sharing ideas and best practice
- Potentially increases leadership capacity
- Supports planned capacity growth within the Trust’s executive team
- Allows for immediate partnerships rather than those subject to the lengthy conversion process
- Either side can walk away at the end of the agreement.
An associate could be the start of a new cluster or bolster an existing one. The service that each associate would get would need to be negotiated on case by case basis. For example, a standalone academy might want more central services than a maintained school that already pays a top slice for services provided by the local authority.
The criteria for assessing a perspective associate should include an assessment of its:
- Ethos, leadership capacity and educational standards
- Financial position
- Location and capacity to support or drain its potential cluster.
This should be assessed in conjunction with its prospective cluster’s and executive team’s ability to support it.
The Trust offers 2 types of associate status:
- Associate status with a view to full integration within 2 years.
This offer to likely to be made to:
- Schools that support our expansion strategy and add to the Trust’s capacity
- Schools that are likely to be sponsored by the Trust either through direct approach or at the request of the RSC to allow for an immediate working relationship
- High performing schools in different geographical areas that provide new opportunities for the Trust.
- Associate status with no defined integration period and with both parties accepting the benefits of a long-term relationship that would ideally result in full integration into the Trust.
This offer is likely to be made to:
- A key strategic partner e.g. a teaching school, SCITT or a school offering specific expertise
- Schools or trusts that could support an outlier school
- Schools or trusts requiring significant long-term strategic planning and / or investment which could, nevertheless, provide significant additional capacity to the Trust.
Each associate status agreement and cost will be bespoke as the leadership, central team services and support required will differ depending on the stage of development, the status (maintained or academy), the need of the ‘associate’ school and the degree to which they are already paying for such services from other providers. What is clear is that an ‘associate’ must make some contribution such that they are not in effect being subsidised by the Trust's existing schools. An ‘associate’ could also contribute services to the Trust resulting in a possible cost neutral position. In practice any such cost is likely to be 2% of the school’s GAG income.
Partner status is usually for a limited period and can be a precursor to associate and then full academy status. This offer is likely to be made to a trust, academy or school that, in the first instance requires bespoke assistance akin to a school-to-school support contract. The costs will directly reflect the level of support needed and will be agreed on a case by case basis.
If you are interested in finding out more about joining BET then please contact Alex Russell, CEO – firstname.lastname@example.org.